Ultimate Guide to the MIND Diet, including MIND diet recipes

Have you noticed increasing “tip of the tongue” incidents recently? Those times when you can’t quite recall the word or phrase you are looking for. Not the big fancy words. Just those common everyday ones that you use all the time.

Or maybe you have started having problems remembering names. Even if they belong to someone you deal with somewhat regularly.

When that happens, do you have a little moment of panic? Do you start looking at articles about how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Especially when you see all those negative articles – no prevention, no treatment, no help at all.

Fortunately, a lot of people don’t believe all that negativity. They have been looking at what the typical American diet has been doing to our health, especially brain health. One – Martha Clare Morris – has taken things even farther. She has come up with what you might call an Alzheimer’s diet – one that can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and which can even slow it down, if people are in the early stages. She calls it the Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. Lucky for us, that shortens down to the MIND diet. Rather than a diet with calorie counts, recipes, and meal plans, it is more of a food plan for healthy brains.

Why choose the Mediterranean and DASH diets? It turns out that people who eat either the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet are less likely to get brain problems – memory problems, stroke, and so on – as well as other old-age diseases. The more closely a person follows those diets, the stronger the effect.

The two diets have similar recommendations, such as a lot of fruits and vegetables, and oily fish. They also both recommend decreasing things we know we shouldn’t be eating, like too much red meat, high amounts of sugar, and high amounts of fast food items. When Dr. Morris and her team concentrated on isolating whatever helped the brain most, they noticed something else.

Some of the recommendations from the two diets help many American health problems (or “lifestyle diseases.”) But they don’t do anything special for brain health. They don’t hurt the brain, either – they are just brain-neutral. So the MIND diet does not include foods like potatoes or most fruits.

Some things help the brain so much that eating more than the basic recommendation of the Mediterranean or DASH diet gives you a bigger boost in brain health. So the MIND diet recommends more of them – twice as many leafy greens as the other 2 diets, and a lot more berries. Berries are also the only type of fruit in this diet.

Some foods (like fish and shellfish) help, but your brain actually needs less than the Mediterranean and DASH diets recommend. So the MIND diet includes them, but not as much as in the other two diets. As long as you eat what the MIND diet tells you, you will still get the same benefit for your brain. (Which should make fish-haters smile.)

One other happy fact emerged: while you get the best results by sticking completely to the diet, it became clear you could cheat a little and still get some protection from problems such as stroke or Alzheimer’s disease. The difference between people who eat a perfect MIND diet, and the people who mostly follow it?

If you stick strictly to the guidelines, you will have 53% less chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease. If you are a senior, that translates into a brain that is 7.5 years younger than the average brain of people your age. If you cheat, within reasonable limits (and the Guidelines tell you what those are) you are still 35% less likely to suffer from brain problems. And who doesn’t cheat on their diet once in a while?

But this “cheating” thing also means, that even if you are on another diet, one that doesn’t agree with all the parts of the MIND diet (especially the carbs part), you can still use most of the MIND diet to get healthy benefits for your brain. (The guidelines below tell you how much the “almost ideal” amount is.) You might not be able to follow every step of the MIND diet, but you should be able to come fairly close. To do that, you need to know what the steps are.


What are the rules for this diet?


The rules are pretty simple: a group of 10 healthy foods to eat more of, and another group of 5 less healthy foods to try to decrease in your diet, with recommended amounts of each. That’s it. No calorie counts. Nothing about exercise. Nothing about sleep. Nothing about your social life. Just what you eat.

That doesn’t mean that all those other things aren’t important. They can certainly help brain health. But the MIND diet is all about food. The reason you can use the MIND diet rules anywhere is because it is so simple. Eat this much of these things, don’t eat that much of those things. Though, depending on what article you are reading, it is not always easy to find out how much that really is.

Unfortunately, you may see not-so-helpful summaries that list “servings” of each. How big is a serving? It varies a little bit with each country, because the Mediterranean diet itself varies a little bit depending on the traditional foods in a particular country. It can also vary depending on who is telling you about them, especially if they have not actually read the original study. That includes our own government – the USDA version of the MIND diet is not quite on track.

Most servings in the MIND diet are similar to USDA guidelines. Some, like meat, fish, and olive oil, are a little different. The lists below follow the original recommendations, and include specific, measured amounts. You can use them to create your own, personal MIND diet plan.

If something is not in the guidelines, it is usually still ok to eat, but it does not specifically increase the health of your brain. So you may see some MIND die recipes or books that have those added. However, stay away from recipes and books that include items which are on the “less healthy” list, such as Tiramisu, or a cheese plate.

The Brain-Healthy Food Group Guidelines

Each guideline includes:

  • The type of food
  • A brief discussion
  • A Serving size, measured in cups or ounces
  • How many servings per day, week or month
  • Some examples (including some lesser-known ones you may want to try)

The MIND diet encourages you to eat these 10 food groups:

1. Green, leafy vegetables


This group has a bigger effect than any other vegetable type on protecting the brain’s functions like memory and problem-solving. Seniors who eat at least one serving per day have a brain that is 11 years younger than people their age who never or almost never eat any greens. There are two groups: raw leafy greens like lettuces, and cooked greens.

Most lettuces (but not iceberg lettuce) and other leafy greens are high in lutein, folate, vitamin E, beta carotene, and polyphenols. So why not just take a pill with those factors? Because supplements don’t work nearly as well for brain fog as getting the same stuff from food. Face it: you’re going to have to eat better and forget the pills.

Serving size: 2 cups, uncooked
Recommended servings – the ideal MIND diet: 6 servings per week (more is ok)
Still some benefit: 3 – 5 servings per week

Some examples:
leafy lettuces like red leaf, green leaf, frisee, endive, arugula, chervil, mizuna, mache and radicchio among others
greens such as kale, collards, chard, spinach, and other greens such as mustard, beet, turnip and dandelion greens
Cabbage belongs in both groups, and baby versions of greens can be used in salads also.

Read more about sneaking vegetables into your diet

2. Other vegetables

(white potatoes are not included here – they act more like a carbohydrate, and do not have the benefits of colored vegetables)

A variety of colors should be used for best results. Different beneficial nutrients are associated with different colors. For example, orange carrots have carotenoids, and red tomatoes have lycopene. Vegetables are rich in anti-oxidants and other nutritional ingredients associated with protecting the brain and improving the memory. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower) are even more active in protecting the brain than the other ones.

Serving size: 1 cup veggies or veggie juice
Recommended servings – the ideal MIND diet: 1 serving per day (more is ok)
Still some benefit: 5-6 servings per week

Some examples:

Artichoke, asparagus, Beets, Bell pepper (red, orange, and yellow are more nutritious than the green ones), Broccoflower, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chives, Cucumbers, Collards, Corn, Cucumber, Daikon, Eggplant (aubergine), English peas (also known as garden peas), Fiddleheads, Green beans, Green onion, Jerusalem artichoke, Jicama, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Mushrooms, New Zealand spinach, Okra, Onions, Parsnip, Hot Peppers (see below for a list), Pumpkins, Radish, Rhubarb, Rutabagas, Scallions, Shallots, Snap peas, Snow peas, Sprouts (see below for a list), Summer squash (see below for a list), Sweet potatoes, Taro, Tomatillo, Tomatoes, Turnips, Water chestnuts, winter squash (see below for a list), Yam

Cruciferous vegetables
Bok choy
Brussel sprouts


Some spicy peppers
Cayenne pepper
Chili pepper
Tabasco pepper


Some sprouts





Some summer squash
Patti pan
Yellow crookneck
Yellow straightneck




Some winter squash
Acorn squash
Banana squash
Butternut squash
Hubbard squash
Spaghetti squash

Read more about sneaking vegetables into your diet

3. Whole grains

Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, which nourishes the beneficial bacteria in your gut. They also contain brain-healthy minerals and B vitamins. You can still use whole grains if you are on a gluten-free diet. You just have to use the right ones, such as gluten-free oatmeal or rice.

Serving size: ½ cup cooked, 1 slice bread, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal flakes
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: 3 servings per day (more is ok)
Still some benefit: 1-2 per day

Some examples: Whole grain breads, Barley, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Couscous, Durum, Farro, Millet, Oats and oatmeal, Polenta, Quinoa, Rice, Wheatberries

4. Berries

Berries, and no other fruits, improve memory, slow the deterioration of memory when that is already a problem, and protect the nerves in the brain.

Serving size: 1 cup berries, ½ cup berry juice or dried berries
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: 2 servings per week (more is ok)
Still some benefit: 1 serving per week

Some examples: Blueberries, Blackberries, Cranberries, Marionberries, Ollalieberries, Raspberries, Strawberries

5. Fish and other seafood (NOT fried fish cakes, fish sticks, or fried fish sandwiches)

Oily fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. To protect the brain, you only need one fish meal per week. More than one is ok, but you do not have to eat more than one a week to decrease the risk of dementia. If you are concerned about mercury, light tuna has 1/3 the mercury content of albacore tuna, and the SMASH fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring) have almost none.

Serving size: Tuna sandwich or 3 to 5 ounces fish or shellfish as main dish (3 ounces is based on Mediterranean diet recommendations)
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: 1 serving per week (more is ok)
Still some benefit: 1-3 per month

Some examples:

SMASH fish: Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines, and Halibut
Other fish and shellfish: Abalone, Clams, Crab, Eel, Flounder, Lobster, Mussels, Octopus, Oysters, Scallops, Sea Bass, Shrimp, Squid, Tilapia, Lake trout, Tuna, Yellowtail

6. Poultry (NOT fried)

Chicken or turkey is an excellent low-fat source of B vitamins, tryptophan – associated with slower rates of memory loss – and protein. Never fry chicken or turkey for this diet. Roasted, baked and broiled are fine, and it can also be used in soups and casseroles. If you are trying to decrease your beef consumption, start using ground chicken or turkey instead of hamburger. (If you need to sneak it in, start with ¼ ground turkey and ¾ hamburger.)

Serving size: Chicken or turkey sandwich or 3 to 5 ounces in main dish. (3 ounces is one split chicken breast, or one entire chicken leg – thigh and drumstick.)
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: 2 servings per week (more is ok)
Still some benefit: 1 or less servings per week

Some examples: Chicken, Turkey

7. Dried Beans

Beans are a source of fiber, B vitamins, and protein. Add grains for a complete amino acid protein meal.

Serving size: ½ cup dried beans, or 1 cup fresh or cooked beans
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: 4 servings per week (more is ok)
Still some benefit: 1-2 servings per week

Some examples: Azuki beans, Black beans, Black-eyed peas, Borlotti bean, Broad beans, Chickpeas, Kidney beans, Lentils, Lima beans, Marrow, Navy beans, Pinto beans, Runner beans, Soybeans

8. Nuts

Source of B vitamins, vitamin E, and healthy fats. Walnuts are very high in gamma tocopherol, and highest in alpha linolenic acid. They are the most brain-healthy of all the nuts.

Serving size: 1 ounce nuts
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: 5 servings per week (more is ok)
Still some benefit: 1 per month to 4 servings per week

Some examples: Almonds, Cashews, Hazelnuts, Pine nuts, Pistachios, Walnuts


9. Extra-virgin olive oil

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and polyphenols (which are anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory). Extra-virgin (from first pressings of freshly harvested ripe olives) is required for the full benefit of olive oil. Do not use for high-heat frying or intense stir-frying, which can break it down. But it is fine for sautéing over medium heat, as well as for salads and even on bread instead of using butter. To make sure you have the highest quality, look for a certification seal on the label from an olive oil association, such as COOC (California Olive Oil Council), NAOOC (North American Olive Oil Council), CIA (no, not that one – it’s the Italian Agricultural Confederation), and the Australian Olive Association. Otherwise you might be buying “extra virgin” olive oil that is merely regular olive oil – or even mixed with other oils!

Serving size: This is ignored in the MIND diet. What counts is using more olive oil than any other oil in your daily meals and snacks, or not
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: main oil used is olive oil
Still some benefit: No almost ideal version here – if it’s not the main oil, no brownie points for you

Some examples: use in salads, to season vegetables, to lightly sauté vegetables and meats

10. Wine

The MIND diet gives equal weight to red and white wine. A daily glass of wine can help preserve brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Serving size: 5 ounces
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: 1 per day
Still some benefit: 1 per month to 6 servings per week
No benefit: Interestingly enough, drinking no wine at all has the same bad effect on the brain as drinking more than 1 serving per day

Some examples: Both red and white wines were equally beneficial in the MIND diet.
Some common white wines: Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gerwurztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc
Some common red wines: Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Madeira, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Port, Rose, Syrah, Zinfandel

Not on the MIND diet “must eat” list, but still a good idea

Herbs and spices

Most herbs and spices are high in antioxidants. They are used as flavorings, and are useful to replace salt, if you are trying to lower your salt intake.

Serving size: varies with the herb or spice, and with your preference. If you are unfamiliar with the taste and want to experiment, start with 1/8 teaspoonful in a dish or soup. Increase if you wish a stronger flavor
Recommended servings: use daily
Almost ideal version: less than daily

Some examples: Anise, Basil, Bay leaf, Caraway, Chiles, Chives, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Horseradish, Lavender, Lemon Grass, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Pepper, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme, Wasabi

Foods to limit in your diet

1. Red meat and processed meat

These are associated with higher cholesterol, high sodium, and other problems which can increase the chance of high blood pressure which can lead to stroke. For the best results, eat them in dishes mixed with vegetables, such as stir frys or pasta sauces. Or use in sandwiches piled high with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles.

Serving size: 3 to 5 ounces
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: 3 or less servings per week
Still some benefit: 4-6 servings per week

Some examples: Beef, Pork, Lamb
One of: Cheeseburgers, Hamburgers, Beef tacos/burritos, Hot dogs/sausages, Roast beef or ham sandwiches or main dish, Beef Meatballs or meatloaf


2. Fast food and fried food

Olive oil is not used in these foods. Every fast food or fried item you eat decreases the chance that olive oil will be your primary oil. Fast food is low in micronutrients such as vitamin A, carotenoids, vitamin C, magnesium and calcium.

Serving size: A takeout serving of: French fries, chicken nuggets, etc. For home-cooked, one serving of any meat, vegetable, or grain that is fried
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: less than 1 serving per week
Still some benefit: 1-3 servings per week

Some examples: Almost anything from a fast food restaurant, Fried chicken, Fried potatoes, Fried cube steak, Potato chips, Corn chips


3. Pastries and Sweets

While fast food is difficult for some people to give up, sugar is literally addicting. It may be the biggest stumbling block for some people who are trying to adhere to the MIND diet. Desserts are high in calories and low in nutrition. The average American eats 22 teaspoonfuls of sugar per day, including hidden sugars in foods like pasta sauce and “low fat” versions of a lot of foods. The American Heart Association recommends just 6 teaspoonfuls daily for women and 9 for men.

Serving size: One piece
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: 4 or less servings per week
Still some benefit: 5-6 servings per week

Some examples: One of: Sweetened Beverages, Brownie, piece of Cake or Pie, Candy, Candy bar, , Cookie, Danish, Donut, Frappe, Ice cream, Milkshake, Pastry, Poptart, Pudding, Snack cake, Sweet roll, Tiramisu, Twinkies

4. Butter and margarine

If you use these to sauté, you decrease the chance that olive oil is your main source of fat in your diet. Margarines that contain trans fats are harmful for the brain and the heart – if you must use margarine, use the ones that are not made from hydrogenated fats. Even better, use olive oil instead.

Serving size: 1 tablespoonful
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: less than 1 per day
Still some benefit: 1-2 per day

Some examples: this can basically be divided into all the brands of dairy butter, and all the brands of margarine.

5. Cheese

For Americans, pizza is one of the main sources of high cheese intake. Try a pizza without cheese, or with half the cheese you normally would have on it. Consider pizza as a special treat, not a regular meal. Use cheese as a flavoring, not a main ingredient.

Serving size: 2 ounces cheese
Recommended servings– the ideal MIND diet: less than 1 serving per week
Still some benefit: 1-6 servings per week

Some examples: American, Brie, Cheddar, Chevre, Corvo, Feta, Haloumi, Manchego, Mozarella, Parmigiano, Romano, Pecorino, Ricotta, String, Swiss

For a chart of the MIND diet foods and Recommended servings, download here.


Now that you have the recommendations, what should you do with them? Use them as a guide when you plan your meals. Although other foods can be viewed as neutral for the diet, remember that the closer you follow the MIND diet guidelines, the better your results.

Meal Planning

Meal planning has 5 steps:

  • Review recipes you like or would like to try for the next week
  • Plan your meals for a week, including the names of specific recipes
  • Make a shopping list of any foods that you do not have on hand for those meals
  • Shop that day or the next day, and stop when you have everything on the list
  • Meal prep – chop, grate, premix, and package in bulk, whatever you need for the week, all at once

Once you have a general idea of your meals, map out what you are going to eat each day in a week. You might want to do this one week at a time, for a month, or for 4 weeks at a time – whichever fits the way your mind work.

Here is an example for your MIND diet plan week 1, followed by some recipes that fit the diet, and more about the rest of the meal planning routine:

Mind Diet Meal Plan


– Breakfast: No-crust Spinach, onion, mushroom and cheddar cheese quiche, with whole wheat toast
-Lunch: Greek salad plus celery with hummus.
-Dinner: 3 ounce roast chicken, whole-wheat pita, lettuce salad with salad-sized shrimp, fresh peas, and balsamic vinegar, glass of white wine


-Breakfast: Oatmeal cooked with almond milk and craisilins, topped with chopped walnuts
– Lunch: Loaded veggie soup with whole-wheat pita.
-Dinner: Mexican casserole, glass of red wine


-Breakfast: Frittata in muffin cups, whole grain toast with almond butter
-Lunch: Chili made with ground turkey.
-Dinner: Grilled salmon, side salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing, brown rice, glass of white wine


-Breakfast: Steel-cut oatmeal cooked with almond milk and one tsp almond flour per serving, with sliced strawberries on top
-Lunch: Salad bar salad with pinto beans and ground turkey cooked with taco seasoning
-Dinner: Basic stir-fry, with brown rice, glass of white wine


– Breakfast: 7 grain toast with avocado, bowl of blueberries with 1 tblsp almond flour and almond milk
-Lunch: Grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion. Brush chicken with olive oil instead of using mayonnaise
-Dinner: Whole-wheat spaghetti with basic meat sauce, side salad with olive-oil and red wine vinegar dressing, glass of red wine


– Breakfast: Scramble with onions, mushrooms, and spinach
-Lunch: 3-bean salad with lettuce, whole wheat toast with almond butter
-Dinner: Chicken and broccoli stir-fry, brown rice, glass of white wine


– Breakfast: Overnight oats with mixed berries
-Lunch: Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread, with lettuce and tomato (and onion, if you like), carrots on the side
-Dinner: Beef stew, glass of red wine

MIND Diet Recipes

If you have Mediterranean diet cookbooks or DASH cookbooks, don’t throw them away! Many of those recipes can be used as-is or easily modified to fit the MIND diet. There are also a few MIND diet cookbooks – but check to make sure they follow the MIND recommendations (not all of them do). Avoid cookbooks with lots of dessert recipes – too much temptation. You might find yourself concentrating on the desserts and ignoring the parts you really need to do. Until all those guidelines become second nature, and you know which bloggers you can trust to do it right, take a good look at each book or recipe to be sure they have what you need.

Once you identify your own basic recipes, and all the legal variations, you will also know that they follow the MIND diet guidelines. You don’t have to obsess about whether the new ones are “legal.”

If you want, you can stick with a few favorites. If you do, you might want to figure out as many variations as you can, just to keep meals from getting boring. Changing herbs and spices that you use is one way to do that.

The main ingredients (like cheese and red meat) that Americans tend to eat in big gobs work best as small additions to other meals, or else just skipped. Favorite American cooking methods (like frying) should be left behind. If you are addicted to the American way, here are some recipes that can get you going.

Breakfast recipes for the MIND diet

Oatmeal and scrambles are 2 breakfasts that are great for this diet. Oatmeal is a whole grain and eggs are a neutral ingredient that can be used to stick a whole bunch of MIND diet ingredients together.


Basic oatmeal tends to be boring. ¼ cup quick cooking oatmeal plus ½ cup water and maybe a little salt. Cook in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally so it does not stick to the bottom. Cook until thick.

Or you can put it in the microwave, but do it in a bowl with high sides so it does not boil over. Cooking time depends on the microwave strength and whether you prefer runny or thick or something in between. It usually takes 1 to 3 minutes. The first time you try it, cook for one minute, then stir, then one more minute, then stir, and continue until you find the amount of time that it will take for your ideal oatmeal. After that, cook for half that time, stir, then place back in the microwave and cook for the rest of the time, stir again, and you have your oatmeal.

And the taste is …. Meh. And brown sugar and cream are not legal for the MIND diet – and a step down the path toward brain fog.

No wonder a lot of people don’t like oatmeal.


Cooking with brown rice milk or almond milk instead of water greatly improves the taste.

Adding in berries and nuts while cooking makes it even better. Sprinkle a little stevia on top, and pour some brown rice milk or almond milk over it, and you have a tasty breakfast.

Other variations:

  • Use different types of oatmeal: Regular oats, steel-cut oats, scotch oats, oat bran
  • Use other grains: cream of wheat, polenta, couscous, quinoa
  • Rotate the type of berries, and use them fresh on top instead of cooked.
  • Use different types of nuts and use them on top instead of in the cooked oatmeal
  • Add dried blueberries or dried cranberries before cooking
  • Add 1 tsp almond flour and stir, before cooking

Overnight oats

No cooking required, but you need a lot of time

Prepare the night before, eat the next day

Basic recipe:

1 8 ounce mason jar
½ cup rolled oats
½ to 1 cup almond milk (1/2 if you like it a little chewy, 1 cup if you like it very creamy)
¼ to 1 tsp vanilla
½ cup berries (blueberries and strawberries work well)

Place ingredients in mason jar. Stir. Place lid on jar and refrigerate overnight (about 8 hours)

Overnight Oats Variations

  • Change berry type
  • Change milk type
  • Add 1 tsp chia seeds
  • ¼ tsp stevia (if berries are a little sour or if you prefer a sweeter taste)

Egg dishes

Eggs are neutral for the MIND diet, but they are a great carrier for vegetables. A basic combination of eggs, chopped veggies, with or without a little cheese turns into several egg dishes, depending on how they are cooked.


A scramble is scrambled eggs mixed with chopped vegetables. Ideally you will have a lot of veggies barely held together with eggs.

Basic scramble – serves 1

Olive oil
¼ cup chopped onions
¼ cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup young spinach
2 eggs, scrambled

Pour just enough olive oil in the pan to keep veggies from sticking. Add onions and mushrooms, fry over low heat, stirring, until the onions are slightly translucent and mushrooms just starting to turn color. Add spinach, stir until just starting to wilt. Add eggs and stir to combine. Scrape them together as they start to cook. When eggs are mostly solid, flip the whole thing. Cook to preferred moistness/dryness.

Scramble variations

  • Vary the vegetables – add other leafy green vegetables in place of spinach
  • Add hot peppers as one ingredient
  • Try cooked yams or sweet potatoes, cubed
  • Sprinkle a small amount of cheese on top

Other variations with the same ingredients

Frittata for 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Oil or grease 3 muffin cups, or line with cupcake papers

Start the same way as the scramble, with 1 more egg:

¼ cup chopped onions
¼ cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup young spinach
3 eggs, scrambled
½ to 1 ounce grated cheese

Pour just enough olive oil in the pan to keep veggies from sticking. Add onions and mushrooms, fry over low heat, stirring, until the onions are slightly translucent and mushrooms just starting to turn color. Add spinach, stir until just starting to wilt. Add eggs and stir to combine.

Then pour into the 3 muffin tins, dividing evenly

Sprinkle cheese on top, dividing evenly

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, til eggs are set and cheese slightly melted


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Oil a 9-inch pie pan with olive oil

Double the basic scramble recipe:

½ cup chopped onions
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup fresh spinach
4 eggs, scrambled
¼ cup grated cheese

Pour just enough olive oil in the pan to keep veggies from sticking. Add onions and mushrooms, fry over low heat, stirring, until the onions are slightly translucent and mushrooms just starting to turn color. Add spinach, stir until just starting to wilt. Add eggs and stir to combine. Add the cheese and stir.

Pour into pie pan

Bake at 350 for ½ hour, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry


Olive oil

¼ cup chopped onions
¼ cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup young spinach
2 eggs, scrambled

Fry the veggies in a little olive oil. Keep warm over very low heat

Pour the eggs into a frying pan or omelet pan

Cook over low heat, until eggs are set enough to flip, in the shape of a pancake. Flip and continue cooking a little longer until eggs are done. Pile the veggies on top, and fold the “pancake” over, with veggies inside.

If you prefer cheese in the omelet, add 2 tablespoonfuls grated cheese before folding the pancake, or sprinkle the 2 tbsp on top of the omelet

Lunch recipes for the MIND diet



Sandwiches are pretty obvious. The original: Two pieces of whole-grain bread, and a piece of meat or cheese inside.

Sandwich variations:

-Change the lettuce type

  • Dill pickles
  • Onion
  • Sprouts
  • Sweet pickles
  • Tomatoes

-Bread substitutes

  • Corn tortillas
  • Flour tortillas
  • Pita bread
  • Lettuce

Most sandwiches include some kind of combination of mayonnaise, mustard, or ketchup spread on bread. If you wish to try olive oil, it is easier to sprinkle or spread a little on the meat or cheese rather than trying to spread it on the bread, which can quickly turn into a soggy mess.

Other vegetable additions include pickles (sweet or dill), tomatoes, and onion. For the mind diet, the more veggies you can add, the better.


A very basic salad is lettuce and dressing. Boring. Which is why salad bars are so popular. And croutons, while adding to the crunch, are not really in the spirit of the MIND diet. Think veggies, veggies, veggies, and the salad bar approach. At the very least, buy one of those salad mixes with some carrots and a little red cabbage in them and add a few cherry tomatoes.

Basic salad bar:


Any kind or combination of lettuce, cabbage, endive, baby spinach or other leafy green stuff. Try as many different lettuces as you can – you may find a new favorite

Tomatoes – cherry tomatoes or tomato wedges or slices. Try heritage tomatoes from the local farmer’s market. Some are very mild and sweet. Some have a strong tomato taste. Some have a slight naturally salty taste.

Veggies that go well with dips also go well in salads. Carrots, celery, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, snap peas, snow peas – all do well in salads.

You can also add any or all of:

Broccoli (small florets)
Carrots (shredded)
Cauliflower (small florets or grated)
Green onions

To give salad a little more body you can add:

Almonds (sliced)
Chicken (shredded)
Garbanzo beans
Kidney beans
Shrimp (tiny salad size)
Sunflower seeds
Tuna (light)
Turkey (shredded)
Walnuts (chopped)

Do the zillion veggie approach for your salad, and you have just increased the nutrition in your salad many times over. That is – as long as you choose the right salad dressing.

It is surprising how many salad dressings include sugar or, worse, high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients. This is not in the spirit of the MIND diet. If you drench your lettuce with one of -those, you just moved it to the “sweets” category.

Instead, olive oil and red wine vinegar make a basic olive oil and vinegar dressing. Use 3 parts olive oil for every 1 part vinegar. In other words, 3 tblsp oil with 1 tblsp vinegar, or ¾ cup oil with ¼ cup vinegar. If you must have a sweet dressing, add a little stevia.

There are several other vinegars to try:

Apple cider
Herb-infused (garlic and rosemary are popular)

Other additions to your dressing:

Mustard (yellow or Dijon)
Tomato paste


If you are going to make soup, I highly recommend a crock pot. You can also use a Hot Pot, but I find those soups less flavorful. Some herb tastes become stronger, and you may have to adjust seasonings if you have a favorite soup recipe that you use for the crockpot.

If you don’t want to use a crockpot, then make soup on a day when you will be home so you can make sure the liquid does not boil off, causing the bottom ingredients to burn. The other option is to put it in a covered container in the oven, set very low.

Soup is liquid simmered for a long time with something – either vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, or seafood in various combinations. It tends to taste a little better if you sauté the vegetables in a little olive oil before you add the liquid. If you are going to add a little meat, that also tastes better if it is already cooked before you add it to the soup. If it is raw – like ground beef or ground turkey, sauté it in olive oil also, chopping it up as it cooks so it ends up crumbled into small pieces.

If you want vegetable soup without any meat, I highly recommend the Loaded Veggie Soup recipe that follows. Various versions are on the Web, and they all taste good to me. It freezes well so you can cook once and eat it multiple times.

If you have a large chunk of meat, like a pot roast, or a lot of bones as the base for your soup, try the meat soup recipe that follows the Loaded Veggie one.

Vegetable Soup

I hate canned vegetable soup. So I was surprised when I tried the Loaded Veggie Soup recipe that follows. Very good! And it freezes well, which is good because it makes enough to serve you and all your neighbors for a month.

Loaded veggie soup

(leave out any vegetables you hate, add in any that you love)

Fresh vegetables are best, but you can use frozen or canned if necessary. You will lose some of the flavor if you used canned.

2 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 large carrots, cit om ½ to 1 inch chunks
1/2 bunch of celery with leaves, chopped
2 medium sized onions, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large green pepper
1 large red pepper
1 small head of broccoli, chopped
4 large vine ripened tomatoes, chopped (can substitute canned diced tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
3 red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized pieces with skin on\
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 cups brussels sprouts -if large, cut in half
1/2 green cabbage, cut in bite-sized pieces (or use 1 bag coleslaw mix)
1 cup cauliflower, cut in bite-sized pieces
2 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup fresh spinach
10 cups of liquid of choice: water, vegetable broth, chicken broth, or beef broth
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 large bay leaves
2 Tblsp dried basil
1 Tblsp thyme
1 Tsp cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Salt to taste. (If you are substituting a meat broth for water, be sure to taste before adding)

In a large pot or stock pot, add olive oil over medium heat, then start adding veggies, one at a time, stirring to slightly fry each one. Don’t remove anything – just keep adding and stirring, adding and stirring until everything is in your pot. Some people like to chop a vegetable, add and stir, chop the next vegetable, add and stir. That helps, especially if you don’t have a lot of room for chopping.

Add your liquid of choice, stir. Dip out ¼ cup liquid, stir into the tomato paste until the paste is diluted and no lumps remain, then add to the pot. Stir to distribute evenly, then stir in all herbs and pepper. (I recommend leaving salt out until this has cooked for awhile). If cooking in a crock pot, cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. You can also prepare this in a Dutch oven or stock pot: simmer on low for 3 to 4 hours.

Taste and add salt or pepper or more tomato paste if needed (or any other favorite herbs or spices).

Once you have eaten as much as you can, cool to room temperature. Store one or two-Serving sizes in the freezer in your container of choice.

Veggie soup variations

  • If you like your soup a little spicy, try adding crushed red pepper flakes, jalapeno peppers, your favorite hot sauce, or whatever else you prefer along those lines.
  • If you like meat in your soup, before adding liquid, saute one pound of ground beef, ground chicken, or ground turkey, chopping the meat as you cook it so you get small crumbles. Use the meat and the juices. You can also use leftover stew meat or pot roast, or leftover chicken or turkey, cut into small pieces. Be sure to add any juices or gravy that come with the leftover meat or poultry.
  • Increase or add any herbs that you really like the flavor of. Leave out any you don’t like. Some recipes have okra, parsley, and/or cilantro. Interestingly there is a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap. If you are like me, and that’s how cilantro tastes to you, do not feel obligated to add it.

One other variation:

If there are some veggies that you prefer barely cooked, such as carrots, corn, or spinach, leave them out until about 15 minutes before the end. Then add them.

Meat and poultry – based soups

Both meat and poultry contribute more flavor to a soup if they are cooked first. The two most flavorful methods are either roasting or cooking 6 to 8 hours on low in a crock pot. When cooking in a crock pot, cut into bite sized pieces. Instead of covering with broth, try just adding liquid to cover about half of the meat. The flavor from the juices will be more intense. Cook the vegetables separately – and just for a short time to get the maximum flavor and crispness.

Basic meaty soup

1 to 3 pounds of roasted meat/poultry/bones, cooked, cut into bite sized pieces, with juices/gravy
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 red potatoes, quartered
½ pound mushrooms, sliced
½ pound baby carrots
2 stalks celery, sliced into1/4 inch slices
4 cups meat or chicken broth
1 bay leaf
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp cumin
½ tsp basil
¼ tsp pepper

If you are using ground meat, saute the meat in the olive oil, chopping it up and stir as it cooks so it ends up in small crumbles.

Add vegetables, cook and stir until onions just start to become translucent.

Add all broth and herbs. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.

If you prefer your veggies to be softer, simmer the soup for one to two hours before serving.

Meat soup variations

  • Add more veggies – as many as you like
  • Add a little less broth and, after meat and veggies are cooked, thicken the broth with 2 tblsp flour per cup of liquid – then you have stew.
  • Saute veggies. Add the cooked meat and any available juices. Make gravy using a cup of broth. Combine all well and serve over rice or noodles.


1 to 3 pounds of extra-lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 large can chopped tomatoes, with juice
1 to 2 15 ounce cans kidney beans or pinto beans or both, drained
2 cups chicken broth
2 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
2 tblsp chili powder (or more, to taste)
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp pepper

Dinner recipes for the MIND diet


Stir fries

Think Chinese food. Slice meat or poultry thin, slice vegetables into small pieces, fry rapidly in a hot pan, and add some sauce. There are pre-sliced frozen vegetables and bottled Chinese and Thai sauces that make this easy.

If you need exact measurements, try this:

Basic chicken, snow peas, mushrooms, water chestnuts stir-fry for one


1/4 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons rice wine
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp ginger powder
3 ounce chicken breast, no skin or bones, sliced thin
½ onion, sliced into ¼ inch wide pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup snow peas or snap peas
¼ cup sliced water chestnuts

Mix sauce ingredients, set aside

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan or wok, over high heat

Add chicken to pan, stirring and cooking until pink color is gone

Add onions, mushrooms snow peas, fry, stirring until just hot

Add sauce, stirring until sauce is thickened and all ingredients are coated

Stir fry variations

  • Substitute shrimp or thinly sliced beef for chicken
  • Substitute or add any other vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Add ¼ tsp stevia to sauce or use bottled Chinese oyster sauce or Pad Thai sauce


Crockpots or a HotPot on a crockpot setting are a natural for stews. I find crockpots give a more intense flavor than hotpots, and it is best to decrease the amount of herbs.

This is a crockpot recipe

1 lb beef stew meat or tri-tip cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, sliced into crescents
½ pound mushrooms, sliced
1 lb bag of mini carrots
4 red potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces with skin on
2 cups beef or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp pepper

Place everything in the crockpot. Cook 6 to 8 hours on low. Taste and add salt or more pepper or other seasonings.

Stew variations

Substitute any red meat or poultry for beef (cheaper cuts give best flavor)

Add or substitute any vegetables you are fond of

Loaded rice

2 cups brown rice, cooked

(hint: if you use a HotPot to cook rice, and you like soft, sticky brown rice, use 2 cups short grain brown rice, and add 3 cups water, or 1 ½ cups water and 1 ½ cups chicken stock. Cook 30 minutes on high. This freezes well. Reheat with a little additional water or chicken broth)

1 egg
1 onion, sliced into crescents
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup snap peas, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp garlic powder

Scramble the egg

Add all but the rice

Stir fry until veggies are done

Add rice and stir everything together

Loaded rice variations

  • Add or substitute any other vegetables of your choice
  • Add chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Add small shrimp

Mexican casserole

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 tblsp olive oil
1 sliced onion
1 sliced red bell pepper
1 sliced Anaheim chili or hotter pepper, depending on your taste
1 can nonfat refried beans
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup (or more) shredded cooked chicken from yesterday’s roast chicken
Saute onion and peppers in olive oil on low, set aside

In a casserole dish, layer nonfat refried beans, brown rice, fajita vegetables, grilled chicken from the night before, and salsa. Bake in oven at 350 degrees until heated through. Top with lettuce, tomato, and guacamole.


Pastas are noodles with sauce on top. Alfredo sauces do not follow MIND diet recommendations, but tomato-based sauces do.

Basic meat sauce for spaghetti:

1 pound of extra-lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
½ to 1 lb sliced mushrooms
1 large can chopped tomatoes, with juice
2 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 small can chopped black olives
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp pepper

Saute turkey or beef in olive oil, chopping up meat until cooked and crumbly

Add onion, cook until just starting to be transparent

Add mushrooms, mix together and cook until mushrooms are heated through.

Add all other ingredients, simmer at least ½ hour, longer is better

Pour over cooked non-GMO whole wheat noodles

Pasta sauce variations

  • Omit meat for marinara sauce
  • Add cayenne to taste for putanesca sauce

Soups and salads – see above

Snack recipes for the MIND diet

Dips with raw veggies or whole wheat crackers, pita, or bread make a hearty snack

(use whole-grain pita or crackers with the dip)

Pita chips

Cut pitas into triangles

Place on baking sheet

Bake at 374 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, til crisp

Dip recipes


1 clove garlic
1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans, half the liquid reserved
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 teaspoon
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Dump everything except the olive oil into a blender or food processor. Blend or process until pasty. Put in a bowl, make a depression on top, and place olive oil in the depression

Baba ghanoush

2 medium eggplants (about 3 lbs. total), roasted (see directions below)
1/3 cup tahini from light seeds, not “dark tahini”
3 cloves garlic roasted (or 1 raw clove, minced)
Juice of 2 whole fresh lemons, or more to taste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt or more to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil


To roast the eggplant:

Rinse eggplants and prick in several places with a fork. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment to catch drips. Do not use parchment if using this sheet to broil the eggplants.

For a smoky flavor, broil eggplant, turning every 2 minutes, skin starts to smell smoky. (If the eggplant does not fit in your broiler, you can char it over a flame – use 2 long-handled forks or large tongs to secure the eggplant. Do NOT hold it in your hands.)

Place eggplants on the sheet in the middle rack of your oven. Bake at 375 degrees 25 to 30 minutes until soft. Cool until you can hold it with your hands – usually 10 to 15 minutes.

While waiting for the eggplant to cool, combine tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper in a medium bowl.

Split the roasted eggplants. Pour off any excess liquid and discard. Scrape the flesh out of the skin put the flesh in the bowl with the tahini mix. Mash the eggplant and mix with tahini mix.

Drizzle the top with the olive oil, and use as a dip. (Or, if making for a later event, put the eggplant mix in a storage container and pour olive oil on the top.) Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Veggies to use with dips

  • Baby carrots
  • Celery
  • Snap peas
  • Broccoli florets
  • Cauliflower florets

Other snacks for the MIND diet (dried berries, nuts, and olives)-

  • Almonds
  • Blueberries (dried)
  • Cashews
  • Cranberries (dried)
  • Hazelnuts
  • Olives
  • Pecans
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

(you can mix berries and nuts to make your own trailmix)


More About the MIND diet weekly planner

The meal planning process helps you increase the good stuff, and decrease the bad stuff in your diet. A MIND diet weekly planner can also save you time and money, especially when you include some meal prep methods.

You have seen how to plan your week, choose your recipes, and make a grocery list. This will keep you on track to increase the good parts of the MIND diet.

To save time and money,

Don’t go shopping when hungry (to prevent last-minute additions of the food you are trying to avoid)

Arrange your shopping list in the order you will find them at the store. For example, list all the fruits and vegetables together. Then group canned, bagged and boxed foods by the aisles they are found on. End with the meat aisle.

Limit your shopping time to 15 minutes, once a week

When you bring your groceries home, do meal prep:

  • Chop, dice, and shred vegetables once a week, instead of every day. (This really helps with onions, celery, lettuce and carrots.)
  • Divide up snacks into individual daily servings (olives and nuts do well here)
  • If you use a lot of rice, beans, or noodles in your cooking, divide the original package into whatever amounts you commonly use, when you first bring the bag home.
  • Cook large quantities of soups, stews, pasta dishes, sauces, and freeze in smaller meal-sized batches.

Some of the time savers also can be money-savers.

Saving money

Use a lot of one item every week? Buy the large economy size – but make sure first that it will really save you money. Sometimes the large size actually costs more in the long run. Divide total price by number of servings to find the price per serving. Buy whichever size gives you the lowest price per serving.

Do you buy the large size of flour or noodles and then find moths or beetles in the bag before you have used it all? That just cost you extra money. Get a smaller size instead.

When you know what you can safely buy in bulk, buy a lot of it when it is on sale.

Do not buy a fruit or vegetable that will go bad quickly, if it is not in your meal plan for that week. You will throw away less and save money that way.


Tips and Tricks

New habits

Can You Train Your Mind To Like Healthy Food?

Chances are, when you were reading the healthy list of MIND diet foods, your thoughts ran something like this: ok, I like that, I can do that, ugh I hate that, I just need to eat a little more…. But when reading about the foods to avoid, were you salivating? That reaction is what makes adopting a completely healthy diet difficult for many. But you can train your mind to like healthy food while decreasing the attraction of the bad stuff. The training starts with grocery shopping.

When should you shop for groceries?

The worst time to go is when you are hungry. The next worst time when you discovered at the last minute that you were out of an ingredient. When you do that, you come home with all those special snacks and desserts. The ones that aren’t in the meal plan. Or on your grocery list, for that matter. But they are there, in your home, staring you in the face.

And you need to get rid of them, because you don’t want them in this new diet.

So you eat them.

That is why this ultimate guide recommends meal planning.

Why bother with a meal plan?

People who plan and track their diet are much more likely to stick to the program than those who do not. Even better, unhealthy foods become less appealing, and the healthy foods start creating more activity in the brain’s reward center.

One way to speed up that process is to use healthy substitutes for junk food, like sweet potato instead of French fries, and oatmeal with berries and nuts instead of a sugary cereal. Another is to change routine habits connected to bad foods.

How to change your habits

If there are a lot of things to change before your diet looks like the MIND diet, do not just dive in and try to do everything at once. Start with one part and make small changes one at a time. If you see a big change that would be easy for you, go for it.

More ways to help change bad eating habits

If you don’t like vegetables, you can hide them in other foods:

  • Smoothies
  • Omelets
  • Stir fries
  • Casseroles
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Mix with ground meat for burgers and meatballs
  • Other ways to hide veggies

Recipe tips

Food storage

Some people store staples this way: If you make a lot of soups or stews, store their main ingredients together. That makes it easy to grab them all and pop them into your slow cooker in the morning to have a meal waiting for you in the evening. So canned tomatoes might go in your soup area, your pasta sauce area, and your stew area, rather than all in one place.

Freeze leftovers in meal-size quantities.

You can freeze leafy greens after rinsing them, without all the bother of blanching, if you are going to use them in a few weeks.

Use StillTasty.com to find out how long your food will last in the refrigerator

Cooking and eating tips

If you like tender, sticky brown rice, use short grain brown rice, an extra half cup of liquid, and cook it in a pressure cooker for half an hour, and a natural release.

To get your 3 servings of whole grains, eat oatmeal at breakfast and a sandwich made with 2 slices of whole grain bread at lunch.

You can use berry powders and leafy green powders to add to soups and smoothies, as one more way of getting enough fruits and veggies each week.

Amount of powder equal to 1 cup of fresh fruit or vegetable

If you are trying to substitute powdered fruit or vegetables for a specific amount of the fresh version, here is the amount of powder to use to equal one cup of fresh.

  • Blueberries – 7 tablespoonfuls
  • Carrots – 2 tablespoonfuls
  • Collard Greens – 1 tablespoonful
  • Kale – 1teaspoonful
  • Spinach – 1.5 teaspoonfuls
  • Sweet Potatoes – 1 cup
  • Tomatoes – 1 tablespoonful
  • Final Summary

The Mediterranean Diet and DASH diets are known to treat and reduce incidence of 4 of the leading causes of death in the U.S.: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer. There is evidence that they can also help slow memory decline and decrease the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

The MIND diet was created by taking a closer look at all ingredients in those diets shown to definitely have a beneficial effect on health in general, and at ingredients in the Western diet shown to have a bad effect on health. They were matched up with measurements of memory and Alzheimer’s disease in people eating those diets.

The result was specific guidelines for foods shown to help with optimum brain health. There are 10 beneficial groups: leafy green vegetables, other vegetables, whole grains, berries, fish and seafood, poultry, dried beans, nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, and wine. There are 5 groups that should be limited in the diet: red and processed meats, fast food and fried food, pastries and sweets, butter and margarine, and cheese.

Download a checklist of the 15 MIND diet groups with recommended servings.

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